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The capsules originate in northeastern China, probably in Jilin province, which shares a border with North Korea. Since August, South Korean authorities have thwarted 35 smuggling attempts accounting for 17,450 capsules containing the powdered flesh of human babies whose bodies were “chopped into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder,” the Associated Press reports.
It’s uncertain where exactly the babies are coming from or who is making the capsules, but it is known that some people consider such pills to be a panacea for a range of physical ailments. Real science tells us that they are actually chock full of potentially harmful bacteria. Plus, they are made from human babies. We can’t stress that enough.
Remarkably, no one has been arrested. The smugglers caught with the capsules–which have mostly been marked as stamina boosters–have denied knowing that they were anything other than energy supplements. And because they aren’t meant for resale–those caught with the capsules have claimed they are either private stock or for non-commercial distribution to family and friends–no economic crime has technically been committed.
South Korean officials have confiscated all of the capsules, however, and while no illnesses have been reported from ingesting the capsules, customs agents are stepping up their targeting of these unsettling pills. Chinese officials have also launched an investigation into the origins of the capsules.
Fossils dating back 505 million years preserve the relics of tiny, slithering animals which are the oldest life forms ever discovered with primitive spinal cords. As the precursor of vertebrates the species is also believed to be the direct ancestor of all members of the chordate family, which includes fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
The finding means the 5cm long creatures, known as Pikaia gracilens, were the forerunners of animals as diverse as snakes, swans and humans, scientists said. The fossils, preserved in shale beds in Canada, were first found 100 years ago by American paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott, who suggested they could have been an early type of leech or worm.
Scientists had since speculated that the creatures could have been chordates because they appeared to have a simple form of notochord, a flexible rod which makes up part of the backbone in vertebrates. But because they lacked a fully developed backbone, there remained doubts about exactly which category of species the fossilized animals should fall into.
We’re used to tapping away at flat, glass-covered touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablets. A group of Stanford researchers have taken that capacitive touch concept and applied it to a completely new form factor, which could have wide-ranging applications in consumer technology, robotics and beyond.
The team created a transparent, super-stretchy sensor that can be used repeatedly without getting deformed, snapping back into shape after each use. The team hopes that their sensor could be used in medical applications like pressure-sensitive bandages, or even as an outer, skin-like layer to create touch-sensitive limbs or robots. Of course, it could also be used on touchscreen devices and computers.
Through spraying carbon nanotubes onto a layer of silicon and then stretching out the substance a few times, the nanotubes are essentially organized into “springs.” The “springs” can stretch in any direction, and be used to measure the force exerted upon itself over and over again without getting stretched out of shape.
The capacitive touch sensor works like this: There are two conductive parallel plates. When one or both are pressed, the distance between them gets smaller, increasing the capacitance of the sensor. That increase can be quantified and measured. In this case, the two conductive parallel plates facing one another are composed of nanotube coated-silicon, with a middle layer of silicon that stores charge.
The stretchy sensor can detect a wide array of touches, according to Darren Lipomi, a postdoctoral researcher on the team. That means from something as light as a “firm pinch between your thumb and forefinger” to double the pressure of a stamp of an elephant’s meaty foot.
So far the sensor isn’t as sensitive as previous projects the Stanford team has worked on (one of which was so responsive that the pressure exerted from a 20 milligram bluebottle fly carcass was well above what it could detect). However, the researchers can eventually use those previous techniques to calibrate this stretchy capacitive sensor. “We just need to make some modifications to the surface of the electrode so that we can have that same sensitivity,” said Zhenan Bao, associate professor of chemical engineering at Stanford.
Check out the video below to see researchers manipulating, testing and talking about their stretchy, skin-like capacitive sensor.